Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Becoming a Mother

Years ago
...long before my husband and I moved back to SD from Portland
...long before we had children
...long before I knew my life's calling to birth work
...my dear husband bought me a book. He just thought it looked like something I would enjoy.....

Fast forward to about 2 years ago.

I picked up that book that had been through three moves (one across the country) and was then sitting on a bookshelf gathering dust for so many years. The title caught my eye because of some birth'y events I'd been a part of with the same name.

I began reading it and absolutely couldn't put it down. It was the first book in a LONG time that I'd read that didn't relate to childbirth, breastfeeding, parenting, or devotional/inspirational type topics. I read it just.for.fun.

There is now a Lifetime movie about that book. When I saw the trailer for it I decided to read it again before I watch the movie (which I will definitely do at some point).

I enjoyed it just as much the 2nd time around, and I'm sure I would enjoy it a 3rd and 4th time too.

I don't know if it was because this time when I read it I was so recently postpartum, or if it just struck me for a different reason, but there is a part in the book where the main character gives birth and the way she describes it is absolute perfection. I couldn't have stated it better myself, and I'm guessing you all would agree with me.

Check it out...

"Just as there is no warning for childbirth, there is no preparation for the sight of a first child. I studied his face, fingers, the folds in his boneless little legs, the whorls of his ears, the tiny nipples on his chest. I held my breath as he sighed, laughed when he yawned, wondered at his grasp on my thumb. I could not get my fill of looking.



There should be a song for women to sing at this moment, or a prayer to recite. But perhaps there is none because there are no words strong enough to name that moment. Like every mother since the first mother, I was overcome and bereft, exalted and ravaged. I had crossed over from girlhood. I beheld myself as an infant in my mother's arms, and caught a glimpse of my own death. I wept without knowing whether I rejoiced or mourned. My mothers and their mothers were with me as I held my baby."*

I (of course) teared up when I read it this time (I probably did the first time too, just don't remember). "There should be a song....." Such truth in that. There are no songs, no prayers, or recitations for us, though. Just the amazement and wonder of meeting our perfect little beings that have been with us for the past 40-ish weeks. The author is so right "there are no words strong enough".

From one mommy to another, I pray today you can relish the amazement and wonder that being a mama truly is, and that you can remember with fondness the first time you saw your precious little one.

~Evie

*Excerpt taken from The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What in the Heck Was I Thinking?!

I do this to myself every year.

It's Christmas time, our family gatherings are VERY quickly approaching and I'm scrambling.

Of Course.

I mean, why wouldn't I?

Every. Single. Year.

But this year? With a newborn? Homeschooling? Really?!?

I always make as many of the gifts we give as possible. I love creating things for the people I love - I always have. Long ago it was individualized mod podged cigar boxes. One year it was cinnamon rolls. A couple years ago it was wool dryer balls and hand soap. Last year it was Christmas tree skirts and an apron that my dear grandma had started many many years ago and I had the privilege to finish. I just think that homemade gifts are pretty sweet - especially if they have meaning and are good quality.

This year is no different. I have big plans for some awesome gifts for my parents and several others on my list.

Did you notice how I said "I have big plans"? Not "I had..."

Do you realize what that means?

I haven't actually gotten to them. My problem? Time.

Here is how my days typically go (Note: if hubby isn't working, he totally helps with all this):
~Get up, brush teeth.
~Baby has by this time noticed that I'm not laying right next to her, so wakes and wants to get up too.
~Change baby
~Feed Baby
~Get other kids up if they aren't already up
~Feed other kids
~Tell big kids to get dressed, brush teeth, etc
~Change Baby, likely feed baby again
~Remind big kids that they are supposed to get dressed, brush their teeth, comb their hair, etc
~Prepare myself for that day's homeschool lessons
~Feed baby
~Remind big kids to finish getting dressed
~Clean up from breakfast.....maybe
~Get started on school - hopefully finish before it's time to get lunch
~Feed & change baby
~Figure out something for lunch
~Eat lunch
~Start working (On days I don't work, insert "run errands or clean" here)
~Feed & change baby sometime in there
~Finish up things that need to get done at work
~Make supper
~Eat
~Feed baby
~Evening stuff - baths, reading, playing, watching movies, etc depending on the day
~Get kids ready for bed
~Tuck kids into bed
~Try to get baby to sleep (i.e. marathon nurse for an hour or two)
Either
~Lay baby down in swing and work on Christmas presents (if she's really actually sleeping)
or
~Decide I'm too friggin tired and just go to bed

Guess which one usually wins out?

Yep. That's my life these days. Not very often do I have time to do anything besides barely getting through my regular days. I'm running out of days and hours to get the things done that I need to. That's not even talking about shopping that needs to happen still.

Uff-da. (That's Norwegian speak for "holy crap, what am I doing?!?")

Usually this time of year is a joy to me. I adore preparing things, wrapping gifts, taking in a Christmas program or two, and enjoying all the season has to offer. This year I'm having to remind myself what the season really means and how no matter what happens we are celebrating the birth of our Savior. Whether or not I finish up the things I planned to do.

I need to remind myself to slow down and take it in. The kids' as they look at the twinkling lights and tinsel. Their excitement and anticipation of our celebration with family. Making goodies with friends. Reflecting on the year and just being grateful for all God has blessed me with.

I pray you are all staying sane and enjoying the season for all of it's joys and wonder! I'm doing my best, but if you see me in the next couple days, please be gentle. I promise I'll be gentle with you, dear mama who has too much going on just like me ;). Like my dear husband said yesterday "Being stressed this time of year kind of defeats the purpose, right?"

Much love and many blessings in this wonderful season of the year!

~Evie

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ahhhh.....Breastfeeding In Public and some Awesome Memes

So, on the heels of my rant about breastfeeding in public yesterday I had every intention of creating a bunch of memes and sharing them with you today. Then I did a google search for some and decided that there were SO many hilarious ones already out there that I would just compile some for you here and you could just enjoy their awesomeness with me.

Seriously.

These are fantastic! :)

So, without further ado, here we go:



Or, you know...a Sakura Bloom sling or Boba Wrap ;)













Which one is your favorite?

~Evie

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Nursing In Public...Is it THAT Big of a Deal?

Am I oblivious?

Am I really this naive?

Or am I just too engrossed in my "breastfeeding is natural, best, and normal" community?

The past week I've heard TWO things regarding nursing in public that kinda made my blood boil.

The first one came from a young mom of a newborn. She shared with me that she was in her baby's pediatrician's office and her baby was hungry. She is breastfeeding, so simply started nursing her sweet little one, not thinking much of it.



Then it happened. An older lady (I don't know how old - she just said "older") came up to her and said something to the effect of "You are way too young to be doing that [breastfeeding]. Actually, you are way to young to have a baby."

This poor young mom was devastated. Here she thought she was doing what was best for her sweet little one and some inconsiderate older (supposedly "wiser") woman (I'm sure I could come up with several less-nice ways to refer to her) comes and crushes her spirit and resolve to do what she knows is best for her baby. In the *pediatricians office*, nonetheless. Infuriating!!

Then, a few days later I was scrolling through my newsfeed and came across this written by one of my acquaintances: "Fair warning: if you show naked women, half naked women, women wearing revealing clothes or women breast feeding I am unfriending you. I will no longer tolerate men sharing women who or women who directly contribute to the rape, violation and degradation of women. I don't care if they are swimming, working out or feeding their kid. I don't want to see it."

Wait. What? *blink* *blink*

Since when does nourishing a baby contribute to violence against women? Since when is it degrading to *feed a baby*? Am I missing something? Is there actually a sect of men out there who see a breastfeeding mom and think "oh, I want her and will do anything to have her whether or not she consents"? Or maybe they think "Oh, seeing that mom breastfeeding her baby makes me want to beat up my own wife/girlfriend".

I don't know. Maybe there is a group of people out there that truly does think this way or some other way that contributes to violence or objectification. Maybe I actually am that oblivious.

But no matter what, I will continue to breastfeed in public. I will continue to encourage others to do the same. When my baby is hungry, I'm going to feed her. I'll do my best not to flash my nipple at old ladies and acquaintances who think it will contribute to violence against women, but if I inadvertently do, they will just need to look the other way or "unfriend" me, I guess. 

It is my baby's right to be fed whenever and wherever she gets hungry. And if I don't feed her when and where she needs or if I bow down to the whims of rude old ladies and delusional acquaintances, then I'm doing absolutely nothing to normalize nursing to other young moms or future moms. I want my daughters to SEE with their own eyes moms who feed - with their breasts - their babies wherever their babies are hungry.

Because if I don't normalize it for my daughters, who will? 

It's my responsibility, and one I take very seriously. I want them to be strong in their decisions to nourish their babies the way God intended. If anyone gives them pressure to do something else (or HIDE it), I want them to be confident enough to not give in to that pressure.

I'm making this pledge to you all now. I will support ALL moms to breastfeed wherever and whenever they need to. Now and always.

~Evie

If you are a nursing mom and want to talk with other nursing moms, or moms who have "been there", make sure to come to our Evening Milk Monologues group tomorrow evening! It's at 6:30 pm at Educated Mommy on the 2nd Thursday of every month. We'll give you the SUPPORT YOU NEED for breastfeeding - in private and public!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving...Because It's Tomorrow


So it's the time of the year to be thankful.

It really feels like you HAVE to be thankful this time of the year, doesn't it? Like you're a bad person or something if you can't find or think of all the things you are (or should be) thankful for?

Well, I've kind of been feeling blah about true thankfulness. I mean, I'm totally thankful for the obvious things. But it felt more robotic or something. Even as I did Thanksgiving lessons with the kids this week. I was just talking about it and wasn't really *feeling* it, know what I mean?

Let's face it. This wife/mom/sister/daughter/friend/aunt/student/teacher/volunteer/co-worker life we lead is HARD. We all go through seasons that are more difficult than others. There are people and things in our lives that are demanding and stretch us - sometimes to our limit.

There are easier seasons too, but sometimes it's really easy to dwell in the difficulties instead of enjoying it all.

So that's where I was earlier today. Just going through the motions. Doing school with the kids, trying my darnedest to get to the laundry, feeding the kids, nursing the baby, changing her diaper, trying to get some work done, making the bed, nursing her some more then changing her again, putting a few clothes away, oh yeah - nursing the baby some more, making lunch - late again.

In the midst of all this, I looked down and something hit me. I was absolutely *overflowing* with thankfulness and love. All the things that can get mundane and just "part of my life" are all so important. And I'm SO thankful that they are part of my life. Even the dirty diapers that I have to change. Again.

You wanna know what I saw when I looked down?

This:

Then I looked over and you know what I saw there?


I'm not sure why, but looking at our kids while they were enjoying their lessons for the day, and seeing our sweet precious baby snuggled up to me after falling asleep in her sling did something to me today. I actually FEEL thankful.

Thankful for the beautiful family that the Lord has blessed me with. Thankful for the good days as well as the struggles, which just make me stronger. Thankful for the sweet faces that greet me every single morning. Just......thankful.

I'm especially thankful at this moment that I'm getting pretty good at typing with just one hand since Ember has been nursing since right before I started writing this afternoon :)

God is good!! Happy Thanksgiving ya'll - I hope you can find your true thankfulness too ;)

~Evie


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Voices Are Important!

I know I've heard it.

I know I've told it to many many people.

Babies know their mamas voice.

It makes sense, really. They grow for 40 weeks (or, you know...42 weeks and 4 days) INSIDE us. It may be muffled, but they hear everything we say. Everything we sing. Every gurgle our stomach makes. Every beat of our heart. No wonder babies like to be held - especially by their mamas!

I don't know if I'm just more observant of these kind of things this time around or if I've just forgotten about them from the other kids. But I've particularly noticed some things with baby Ember.

The first thing I noticed was right after she was born. She was a few hours old and was a bit fussy as she was trying to get a good latch and nurse. I sang her a song that I made up when Vienna was a baby, and have used for all the kiddos (my sister's and brother's, too). It's still one of the kids' favorites, and I sing it to them every night. So, obviously she heard it every night as she was growing in my womb. Within the first few notes, she quieted down and relaxed.


Then last week we went to Winner to celebrate my mom's birthday with her. The men were all harvesting some land my dad farms way out there, so we were all staying in the local Holiday Inn Express. My sister and her family were there, as well as my brothers' girlfriends and their families. It was a lot of fun! Well, at this time Ember was not quite 3 weeks. My brother's girlfriend was holding her while the other kids swam in the pool and I had to run to our room for something. She came up a few minutes later, and I was way down the hall from where she was. I said something, and as soon as she heard my voice (from halfway down the hall), sweet Ember started searching for me...she was a little upset I wasn't *right* there. :)

It really struck me the most just this morning, though.

We have a minivan, and Vienna sits way in the back in her booster, Porter sits on the passenger side middle seat in his car seat, and Ember is right behind me.

Usually when we are in the car, Ember is very cool with it as long as we are moving. She doesn't like it much when we stop, at a stoplight or whatever - ha! Most of the time, though, she'll calm right down once we start moving again.

This morning she didn't. I was on my way to Bible Study and left the older kids home with Randall. I think it was probably the first time she and I went alone anyplace, and when we got going she was NOT happy. I figured she'd calm when we didn't have any other stops.

Notsomuch.

She was VERY upset. She wouldn't calm down.....until I did one thing.

I simply talked to her.

I don't know if she was scared because she didn't see or hear the other kids and obviously she couldn't see me, or what. I said just a few words to her and she calmed instantly. I talked to her for a little bit until I was sure she was ok and calmed for good. By the time we got to our destination about 5 minutes later she was sound asleep.

All these just reinforced with me the fact that we mamas need to talk to our babies! Not just our babies, though. If it's that important to talk to our newborns, it's just as important to talk to them as they grow, too!

I heard recently that the majority of parents only talk with their kids 3.5 minutes per day. I cried when I heard that. Can you imagine how starved for parental interaction those kids are? It made me so sad, and truly made me examine my own relationship with our kids. It's really easy for me to bury myself in work, research, projects, or whatever, and put them off when they try to talk to me. It's really easy for me to tell them that it's time to go to sleep instead of telling me their most pressing thoughts at the time.

I think these quotes are quite timely:

"A child seldom needs a good talking to as a good listening to." ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

"Anyone who thinks the art of conversation is dead ought to tell a child to go to bed." ~Robert Gallagher

And one of my favorites: “Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” ~ Catherine M. Wallace

So let them hear your voices, but don't forget to listen to theirs too!

~Evie

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ahhhh. Newborns.

Ok, so as you all know I was pregnant. What I guess hasn't been officially announced is that I *finally* had our sweet baby girl on 10/20/14. I was due 10/2/14. Yep. 18 days later than expected (by my provider - I expected her to come about a week and a half after my EDD). That said, I don't believe she was "late", I believe she was right on time. Those 18 days were EXTREMELY long and trying on my emotions, but I'm super glad that I know what I know about waiting for baby's timing as long as everything looks good. I had a couple NST's at the end there, and it was getting to the point that if nothing had happened I was going to need to seriously consider induction. I'm really glad I didn't have to go there.

Anyway, I promise that I will share her birth story in the near future.

Today, though, I want to focus on what it's like to have a newborn again.

Less than 24 hours old

There's several things I had forgotten about and those I haven't, but all of them have been an adjustment...

1. Baby sleeps when baby wants to. Yeah, I know this doesn't seem like it should be much of a revelation. Especially since at 42+ weeks pregnant, it's not like I was sleeping that much at night anyway, waking approximately 97 times a night to pee. But for some reason, it caught me off guard. Dumb, huh? I mean, it's normal for a newborn to sometimes not want to go to sleep until 4:30 am, right? Then to sleep all day? I totally and for real know that's normal, I just hadn't really prepared myself for it very well. Der. Don't get me wrong - most nights she sleeps awesomely - right next to me in bed, only waking to eat for awhile. There have been times, though.....there have been times......

2. Baby poops and pees a lot. Another "duh" thing, right? Well, again, for some reason I wasn't really thinking that much right when she was born and didn't change her as often as I should have. It took a few days for me to remember that I need to change her pretty much every time she wakes up or eats. I'm not sure if it was the lack of sleep from being up until 4:30 am or just baby-brain-farts where I literally just forgot what it was like to have a newborn.

3. Babies are loud. She's generally pretty chill, and overall a really easy baby. But when she gets mad she gets mad fast. There's no "working up to it", or in between. When she's not happy about something she lets you know in no uncertain terms how she feels. And she cries really loudly!

4. Umbilical Cord stumps can STINK! Holy moly, It was seriously so gross. I'm so glad it fell off quickly - for whatever reason it was nAsty. If I had still been pregnant I would likely have gagged and maybe even lost my lunch every time I held her...I was SO gaggy this pregnancy! I don't remember the other kids' stinking like that, but maybe I'm just blocking it out.

5. Giving birth makes me REALLY hungry! Good grief. You would have thought I hadn't eaten in months with the way I literally ate everything in sight the week or so after she was born. I'm so happy we were so blessed to have more than a week's worth of meals provided for us!

6. The "after pains" right after delivery really hurt! I usually don't take pain meds for things, but I broke down and did for those. As everything's moving back into place after being so stretched out, it takes time to contract back down, and every time I nursed (and sometimes even when I wasn't nursing) my uterus contracted and my ligaments got pulled and I would cramp and often had to breathe through them. It was like labor! I'm really glad they didn't last long...less than a week :)

7. Finding a nursing rhythm can be challenging. We are still working on getting really good at breastfeeding. She is eager and willing, but has a little bit of a difficult time with her latch sometimes. She's getting better at it all the time, but I have to say that I'm really glad that I know what I know about breastfeeding. I believe that I was able to avoid painful engorgement and cracked/bleeding nipples this time because of being more educated about latch and breastfeeding in general. (I had both with the other kiddos)

8. Not having Postpartum Depression or "Baby Blues" is AWESOME! I attribute this mostly to the fact that my hubby has been around MUCH more this time around...he's in the midst of switching jobs, and the timing just worked out absolutely perfectly. I believe I had PPD with my first and definitely had some "baby blues" with my 2nd. Having the support I need this time around has made all the difference.

9. Adding a 3rd child to the family is an adjustment (newborns don't really care about your schedule or the things you had planned to get done). But especially since we are homeschooling the other kids and I work from home, time management has been a challenging thing to figure out, and I'm not even close to "getting there" yet. I haven't showered in 3 days, and it's not the first time since she's been born. It's ok, though. The other kiddos are old enough to help out immensely, and like I said, my hubby is around a lot more than he used to be, so he has helped like crazy. We're getting there, slowly but surely :)

10. Babies are AMAZING. The way she snuggles with me, the way she's really not happy unless she's being held (she needs human interaction and contact), the way she looks up at me when she's nursing (she's just now starting to really "see" things and is visibly observing the world and people around her much more), the way she nuzzles me with her face when she just wants to go to sleep, the way she searches for my breast in the middle of the night, finds it, latches, and neither of us really wake up much at all, the sweet little baby sounds of contentment she makes when she's sleeping on me, the way she changes every single day. I just want to drink it all in. She's such a vision of perfectness and beauty I could just watch her every single minute of every single day. I am in awe of her, I am in awe of the way her sister and brother love and interact with her, and I am just overflowing with love for this precious little being who has blessed our family so completely already.

Earlier today, 3 1/2 weeks

First ever "for-real" smile caught on camera :)

Do you have things that took you by surprise when your newborn joined the family mix? Share them! :)

~Evie